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Planning Retirement Online

Venue, Guests and Invitations when Organising that Special Party


Once you have fixed your budget, you can then decide on the venue. If you’re going to do the work yourself (rather than go somewhere such as the theatre followed by a meal, say) it’s undoubtedly easier to organise your party at home because everything is at hand and you can’t forget to take anything to the venue. People have been known to organise a party in the village hall and then forget to take all the quiches that they had lovingly made!

However, before you decide to organise a party at home you must make sure that home is suitable. The first question is: is it big enough for all the guests?

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Even that’s not as simple a question as it sounds. If you want everyone to be inside all the time, you will need more room indoors than if you’re happy for people to spill outside. However, if they’re going to be outside, you may feel you need some shelter for them in case it’s either too hot or too wet. If it’s for a small number a gazebo or two may well do the trick. However, if it’s for a large number of people you may need a marquee. Visit  to see a list of companies that hire marquees.

If you decide that your home is unsuitable, then you need to think about the village hall, the scout hut, a room in a pub/hotel or some other suitable local venue. If you’re doing your own catering, the nearer to your home that you can organise it, the better, because transporting food can be tricky.

If you’re using a hall of some description, you need to ensure that the facilities are right for the kind of food you are going to serve. If you need to heat up food, there needs to be a cooker of a suitable size that will do the job in a reasonable time. If you’re using outside caterers, they will expect the facilities to be appropriate to what you are asking them to do. Remember that if you want to hire a room in a hotel they will certainly insist on doing the catering themselves.

One other aspect of venue is if you think people would want to stop over for the night but you can’t accommodate them. You then need to ask your local friends if they could put someone up and/or investigate the local B&Bs and hotels. You may then think about hiring a mini-bus or taxis to get your guests from their accommodation to the venue and back again.

If you are using your home as the party venue, think about seating. Most of us don’t have sufficient seating for everyone to sit, if you are going to host a large party. Therefore, you will probably have to beg, borrow or hire chairs. However, if it’s an informal party there may be no need for everyone to sit at the same time – or at all.

Lastly, if the venue is away from the home, consider how you want to get there. For example, you may want to transport your partner to the party in a stretch limo. That’s a real treat and you can find one at


Your guest list is, of course, all-important. In a sense, everything else is dependent on how many people you are going to invite. So decide whom and how many you are going to invite in conjunction with the other elements of organising the party. Of course, if you have a particular type of party in mind right from the start, then the guest list will have to be appropriate to that. If it means that you can’t invite all your friends, consider how you can avoid upsetting those who miss out!

You might like to have a reserve list in case some people can’t come, but this will depend on how many friends you have and whether you want to invite them all right from the start. However, once you have decided on your primary guest list, don’t alter the numbers too much because it could affect all your other plans.


Don't forget to spend some time on the party invitation. It's the first thing your guests will see connected with the party and it can help to create the right mood and anticipation even before they arrive. Most people love receiving invitations so it's worth doing.

Imagine you’re inviting people to a "James Bond" themed party. Get into the swing of it straight away and whet their appetites!

Tell them in the invitation that they have been selected for an interview for MI6. Their first assignment is to attend a party dressed as one of the characters in a James Bond film. Then have an envelope inside the outer one marked ‘Top Secret’ with all the details in.

So you can have some fun with invitations if you wish – dust off your imagination again! Put any information on them that you feel necessary, whilst making them fun. They’re the start of the party! For example, you will obviously include:

  • Date
  • Time
  • Venue
  • A request to RSVP

You might wish to include:

  • Theme
  • Eating and drinking details, e.g. if you want them to bring a bottle or a plate
  • If presents are not required
  • Details of local B&Bs and hotels if you think people might want to stay the night

Think how you want your invitations to look. You can obviously buy them in all sorts of different designs or you can produce them yourself on the computer. Do you want them to be formal or funny and informal? The feel of the invitation will give people an idea of the style of the party you’re going to host. Invitations are your chance to really "sell" the party and make everyone look forward to it. If they come thinking they will enjoy it, they will!

Finally, if you design them yourself, you can send them over the Internet rather than post them. Go to and to see if they get your creative juices going.

This Guide to Organising That Special Party is written by Retirement Specialist Dave Sinclair supported by members of the LaterLife team. As well as writing on retirement matters Dave is Training Director at LaterLife and responsible for the content and continuous improvement of LaterLife's Retirement Courses.
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